Two weeks ago, at a meeting of the Northumberland Scribes, we tried something new. Instead of sharing 150 words on a topic, we were given a prompt and wrote for 30 minutes. Actually, we were given two prompts. We didn't like the first one, so the moderator opened up a book he had with him and picked a sentence at random to use as our prompt.
For the next 30 minutes we bent our heads over our notebooks, there never seems to be a lack of writing materials in our group, and scribbled furiously away. Below is my resulting piece - exactly as it was written that night. No editing, as much as I would like to (that was part of the point of the exercise). It's amazing what you can do in 30 minutes. :-)
Prompt: When he walked past the house the next day he wondered how she was . . .
She’d been very pale, the last time he saw her, and wore long sleeves despite the high temperatures. He wondered, not for the first time, what went on behind that closed door. Sometimes he could make out voices over the loud music that often played when they were both at home and once he’d seen the silhouette in one of the upstairs windows of what could have been a struggle going on.
That night he was in his back yard, having just finished a steak grilled to perfection on the barbeque and settling into the rattan papasan chair with a scotch on the rocks. Raised voices from the house next door could be heard, not clearly enough to make out actual words, but loud enough to know there was one hell of an argument going on.
When the crash sounded, he half-rose from his chair, easing back down when the night went still again. A short time later Bob peeled out of the driveway in that ridiculous red car of his. A few minutes later a light went on in the upstairs, letting him know at least she was still mobile.
He often wondered why she stayed with Bob, why any woman would stay in that kind of situation. Nor could he understand a man who could inflict such damage, both mentally and physically, on someone he professed to love.
“Best not to get involved,” his mother advised him when he spoke to her about it over the phone.
But if he didn’t get involved, who would? Bob’s wife didn’t appear to have any friends or family, in fact he rarely saw her leave the house without her husband.
Maybe that was the point. Maybe Bob cut her off from all her family and friends to make her totally dependent on him. Then he could treat her any way he liked and she’d be helpless to stop him. Maybe she was a prisoner in her own home and needed to be rescued.
He tossed back the last of his scotch and slid out of the chair. Squaring his shoulders, he walked determinedly, if a little unsteadily, to the house next door.
Hesitating only a fraction, he took a deep breath and rapped sharply on the door.
There was no response.
He waited a few seconds, then rapped again. This time he pressed an ear to the door – he was positive he heard movement inside.
“Hello? Is anyone there? I’m from next door . . . I just wondered if you needed any help.”
The door rattled and a woman’s voice said, “Go away.”
“Ma’am? I couldn’t help hearing the argument you and your husband had. If you need any help . . .”
The door opened and his jaw dropped. The woman backlit by the light in the hallway was dressed in a black leather bustier and matching shorts, fishnet stockings and stiletto-heeled boots that came up past her knees. She flicked a riding crop against her thigh.
“Do I look like I need any help?” she asked.